NetRunner: The Collectible Card Game

by Nathan Stout

or NetRunner: better ROI than your house.

NetRunner is a collectible card game (like Magic The Gather or YuGiOh). It was made in 1996-1999 by Wizards of the Coast (the same people who made Magic The Gathering or MTG or Magic The Crappering as I like to call it).

In my opinion NetRunner was a game that was GREATLY underrated and before it’s time. Had it come out two or three years later I think it would have done even better. In the end NetRunner was apparently only a marginally successful game. It saw two expansions (additions to the original card set) called Proetus and Classic.

NetRunner still has it’s fans. In fact it’s fans are smart, affluent, and rich.

I’m serious. Well, in Chris’ case I will make a exception. I kid! I kid!

Its safe to say there is a core fan base for this game still in existence. I myself created a NetRunner Yahoo! Group and it has a couple hundred members. This doesn’t include a couple of still active websites. The most active of all the site on the inter-webs when it comes to the NetRunner fan base is… EBay.

A pack of 15 cards that you could buy for $2.95 now go for about $4.00 (and that’s just the base set). The expansions are even more rare and you will pay between $6-$8 for those 15 cards.

It’s not uncommon for a box of these ‘booster’ card packs to sell for $140.00 (and around $200-$300 for the expansions).

That’s ridiculous!

It is!

At the same time I can see the logic behind it. If I had money just lying about I guess I would be buying them up too at those prices. They are becoming more and more scarce and so I guess the prices will continue to go up.

I have decided (until I am mega rich at least) that I don’t need to buy any more. I have 2 five thousand card boxes full of cards and scans of all of them. My friends and I don’t mind playing with photocopied proxies if we need to.

Chris and I play regularly and we intend on making a ‘how to’ series of videos on YouTube in the near future. I think the game is so great that one day Wizards of the Coast WILL reprint it (I am sure of it). Until then we will treasure our cards (I refuse to shuffle my cards in the traditional way so as not to bend and wear on the heavily).

Now for some history… Chris introduced me to NetRunner in 2002 while I was living in Fort Worth. His friend Loren was playing this game that was ‘internet hacker’ based and was really fun. The dynamics of the game was nothing at all like the other game of the day (mainly Magic The Gathering). NetRunner utilized two completely different sets of cards. In Magic The Gathering each player can choose any of the three gazillion cards in the set. In NetRunner there are cards that belong to the ‘hacker’ and cards that belong to the ‘corporation’. This makes NetRunner very unique (even to this day). I told Chris it sounded cool and we gave it a shot. In no time at all I was playing and having a great time. Chris brought Loren and we would have tournaments and be playing for hours on end.

One of the other great things about this game is that the cards are fantastically balanced and a game can go one way or another in the blink of an eye. With a lot of other collectible card games once someone gets the upper hand (so to speak) the game can be very one sided and/or end very quickly. For the most part NetRunner is not like that at all.

During this time up until 2005 ish I was loading up on NetRunner cards off EBay. They were pretty cheap. At one point I was able to buy several of boxes of ‘Starters’ (2 complete, ready to play against each other decks) for $20 a box. Those are the ones going for about $100. In 2004 I think I had about 6 starter boxes and about 4 booster boxes just sitting in my closet. I did sell a few and opened quite a few more. In all that mess I completed a set (all 500+ cards) and sold it for some insanely cheap amount on EBay. I wish I would have saved it… I have built myself a second set (that is still not complete). Chris didn’t have the money or credit that I did (since he had to support 1,500 children) so he did a lot of ‘proxing‘. He would take some real cards to Kinko’s or someplace and photocopy the cards and cut them out. He would go to the dollar store and buy packs of playing cards and a stick of glue. He then glued the photocopied cards to the playing cards and there you go! He would also make boxes for those decks from interesting things like mutilated playing card packs and Walmart saltine cracker boxes.

He still has those. We still play them too.

We hope to continue to play NetRunner for years to come since it provides us with some great gaming time. I highly suggest you try it out if you ever can. If you are in the DFW area, look us up and we will be glad to come teach you.

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